The 2008 Daytona 500 was the 50th annual running of "The Great American Race". It was held on February 17, 2008 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. The race was the 50th to be run since the first in 1959, won by Lee Petty. To commemorate the event, the Harley J. Earl Trophy, which goes to the winner of the race, was plated in gold instead of silver. In addition, the winning car was placed on display for one year at the Daytona 500 Experience attraction just outside Turn Four. Ryan Newman won the race, his only win in the 2008 season.
The race was the first Daytona 500 win for Penske Racing and the first run using NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow, which was introduced in 2007 and became standard in 2008. Additionally, this was the first official race under the new Sprint Cup banner as the telecommunications giant replaces NEXTEL as the series sponsor after their 2005 merger. Ryan Newman's victory with the number 12 car in the Daytona 500 was the first time since Bobby Allison's #12 won the race in 1988, 20 years prior.